This is good for a bit of entertainment. Svidler's clearly tired and not firing on all cylinders, even apart from the difficulty of trying to play and talk at the same time. Still, it's interesting watching him take on all comers while trying to offer the occasional insight.
Entries in Peter Svidler (16)
Peter Svidler's video series on the Gruenfeld for Chess24 has been widely and correctly praised, and if you play this opening you will want to watch it even if you don't become a premium member of that site. There has been one long-running source of frustration to many of the viewers, however. Svidler sometimes alludes to the "files" where more information was available, but there was no such file. It was coming soon, we were told, but the months went by and no files were in sight.
In some ways this was very understandable. The Chess24 people have clearly been very busy: they're running a burgeoning playing zone, have commentators for most of the big events, write text articles for the web and every so often add another video series or two to their library. Still, it has been around a year and Svidler's Gruenfeld files had not appeared...until now. The long wait is finally at an end, and you can access (or buy) the e-book series here.
The relative standings at the top are almost identical to what they were coming into the 6th round of the Tbilisi Grand Prix. Evgeny Tomashevsky still leads by a point (now with 4.5 points) ahead of five other players. Coming into the round one member of the quintet was Alexander Grischuk, but he has been replaced by Teimour Radjabov, who defeated him speedily in a Najdorf Poisoned Pawn. The other four players are the same: Leinier Dominguez, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Anish Giri and Dmitry Jakovenko.
Radjabov reintroduced the e5 line into top-level chess about a decade ago, when he crushed Viswanathan Anand with it in a blitz game. Since then there has been an explosion of theory on the variation, but it isn't clear that today's game will open a new chapter. Radjabov's 16.Be2 was a rare move, and in the two previous games to see this Black was doing okay. 16...Nxg3 was played in a comparatively low-level OTB game (the computer claims this is equal) and 16...Qa1+ occurred in a high-level correspondence game, albeit back in 2009. The computer likes the latter move, and Black won both games. If this line has a future, it will be with 16...Qa1+ but not Grischuk's 16...Nc5. White was clearly better after that move, and further errors by Grischuk on moves 18 and 20 sealed his speedy demise. Black resigned on move 24, faced with massive material losses or mate.
The day's other winner was Peter Svidler, who defeated Dmitry Andreikin with White in a 4.d3 Berlin. Svidler saddled his opponent with a weak queenside structure, and even though Andreikin was probably okay the position wasn't very comfortable to play. Eventually he dropped a pawn on the queenside, and got caught in a catch-22. His king needed to rush to the queenside to deal with the a-pawn, but when it turned into a rook ending it was one that would have been drawn if his king were on the kingside. Cut off on the d-file, it was lost and he soon resigned.
Round 7 is tomorrow, and Svidler will have Black against Tomashevsky then.
Chess24 has an improving playing zone and worthwhile news reports, but their biggest attraction is their growing library of video series. The most noteworthy series was by Peter Svidler on the Gruenfeld, but there have been many other interesting ones as well. Still, when a player of Svidler's caliber engages in such a project it's likely to be something special, and that was certainly true of the one on the Gruenfeld.
Now Svidler has released another opening series, this one offering a White repertoire in the Ruy Lopez with the very trendy 6.d3 (after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7). Nowadays this is considered a more promising way for White to avoid the Marshall Gambit (6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5) than the standard 8th move dodges like 8.a4 and 8.h3, and it has almost become the new main line of the Ruy. Svidler acknowledges that it doesn't seem to promise White an advantage - what does? - but aims to offer White fresh ideas that will at least put the onus on Black (especially if he hasn't already prepared for those them) to solve new problems.
Svidler has long been a specialist in the Ruy, having played both sides of the opening with great regularity for the past 20 years or so; indeed, he states that he probably knows this opening better than anything else in his repertoire apart from the Gruenfeld. So the series should be a very attractive one to anyone who plays either side of the opening, and also for those who simply want to understand the game better; the Ruy is an extremely rich opening.
As usual, there are two ways to access the series. One is to buy a premium membership on the site for $135.99 for a year (pricy, but if you like watching chess videos it's a good deal), and the other is to buy the series a la carte for $14.99 - not a bad deal at all. (It would be an even better deal if Chess24 would finally create the downloadable PGN files they've promised since the site's inception, but even without that it's a very good price in comparison to comparable video series across the landscape.)
UPDATE: As noted in the comments section, there's a third way to access the series, which works for all the other series as well: purchase a one-month membership for $13.99.
In case Dortmund and the ACP Golden Classic aren't enough to keep your interest, two more major events are coming your way. Biel starts Monday - today for some of you, tomorrow for others - and looks quite attractive. The main event is a six-player double round-robin, starring Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri, Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Pentala Harikrishna, Alexander Motylev (the graybeard of the event, the 35-year-old Russian is the only player in the event not in his 20s), and women's world champion Hou Yifan.
The second event is an eight-game rapid match between Boris Gelfand and Peter Svidler, taking place in Jerusalem from July 20-24 (HT: Chess Today). The games will be followed by live video interviews, which is especially welcome with post-mortem world champion Svidler at the helm.
With the Olympiad starting August 1, this is a great stretch for those who not only like to play but enjoy watching the game as well.
Some pleasant recent offerings on Chess24:
Two pieces on the 12th World Chess Champion, Anatoly Karpov. The most recent one has Karpov look back at his unplayed match with Bobby Fischer, offer a short comment about the Magnus Carlsen-Viswanathan Anand match(es) and a recollection of meeting Salvador Dali. The older one offers a transcript of a Russian film that had already been available on YouTube for some time, but now English readers unfamiliar with Russian can enjoy it. It is a documentary of Karpov's training camp before the aforementioned (non-) match with Fischer. Fans of Tigran Petrosian will also want to check this out, to see him play a little blitz and hear his voice (as he's engaged in some mild trash talk with Rafael Vaganian).
Then it's time for Mikhail Tal, courtesy of Peter Svidler. There's a short interview with Svidler in which he discusses (among other things) his new video series on Tal, which is, I suspect, probably available only to members of the site. If you're a member I think you'll enjoy it, but I wouldn't really recommend signing up if this is your only reason for doing so. (Unless money is no object to you, in which case there are certain bloggers who would appreciate your support.)
At least two things struck me about the series, which I have watched in its entirety. The first is the strong emotional bond Svidler shows towards Tal, one of deep respect and feeling. The second, somewhat ironically, is a sense in many of the games that his opponents played extraordinarily poorly (at least/certainly by Svidler's standards), to a degree that one almost wonders if there has been rating deflation over the past few decades, at least if ratings are taken to represent objective strength.
A more modest claim is that they played very poorly (compared with their peers today) in the kinds of complicated positions that Tal created, which may very well be the case. Additionally, our improved skill in such positions today is explained in part by the fact that Tal arrived and forced the world to adapt, and even more by the presence of computers, which have done much to improve players' awareness of tactical resources. Whatever the story, the videos are enjoyable, so watch them if you can.
The Vugar Gashimov Memorial starts tomorrow, and the pairings for the A-group look like this:
- Magnus Carlsen - Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
- Hikaru Nakamura - Fabiano Caruana
- Sergey Karjakin - Teimour Radjabov
Play starts at 3 p.m. local time in Baku/Noon CET/6 a.m. ET, and on chess24 Peter Svidler will be giving live commentary.
So far, chess24 is putting out some nice material, including this concluding report, complete with annotated games and interviews. A tease: Grischuk explains his infamous comment about Kramnik's "bad preparation".
Round 5 of the Candidates' was very exciting, even if there was only one decisive game.
Viswanathan Anand came into the round in first place, and though playing Black would presumably have his chances against tailender Dmitry Andreikin. Indeed, Anand did manage to achieve an advantage, but Andreikin defended well and held the draw.
The marquee game saw Vladimir Kramnik take on Levon Aronian, and Kramnik played very energetically and obtained what he thought was a winning position. He was certainly pushing, but Aronian defended terrifically up until 33...Bxd5, which was a serious error that went unpunished. (Both 33...exf1Q/R+ and 33...hxg5 sufficed to hold.) Had Kramnik played 35.Rg1 he would have had a winning position, but after missing it the result was a rook ending where Kramnik's extra pawn wasn't enough to win.
Peter Svidler joined Kramnik and Aronian in second, half a point behind Anand, by winning against Veselin Topalov. Svidler showed his naivety (his word) by following an earlier game he played against Antoaneta Stefanova and walked into some strong preparation and a difficult position. It wasn't as bad as Svidler made it sound in his characteristically self-deprecating manner, but Topalov did have an advantage. Shades of the old Topalov, but once the preparation ended the flashes were gone. Svidler played very well and Topalov didn't, and he (Svidler) won pretty convincingly.
Finally, Sergey Karjakin and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov played a pretty calm draw in a Moscow Variation Sicilian, of all things. Karjakin is a player who characteristically heads for main lines, the sharper the better, so it was odd to see him play the quiet 3.Bb5+. Against a weaker player he might have been able to achieve something with the position after 15.Qxd4, but Mamedyarov did a fine job of neutralizing White's efforts and the game soon leveled out into a drawn rook ending. Black made it look easy, but there were some problems to solve.
The games are here, with only the lightest comments (zeitnot here, but maybe fuller comments will come later), and here are tomorrow's pairings (as usual, player scores are given in parentheses):
- Aronian (3) - Andreikin (1.5)
- Anand (3.5) - Karjakin (2)
- Mamedyarov (2) - Svidler (3)
- Topalov (2) - Kramnik (3)